Growing Pains

photo of a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows

Pete did not mind that the October flurries seemed to be funneled straight into the bare breeze blocks of his garage, turning the cold, grey space even chillier. And besides, the rust-brown fleece he wore was good for Arctic conditions, or so the sales assistant had assured. He was enjoying working with this delicate piece of beech. It would make a good sideboard, when he was done.

His hobby gave him respite from his sons and, if truth be told, from his wife. He found his garage a therapeutic space for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. Today, however, his peace would be interrupted when elder son Zander, adorned in his new, blue Spiderman sweatshirt, appeared in the open doorway. Seeing the boy’s lips move, Pete shut down the lathe and the din subsided.  

“Hello, son, have you come out to help? Did you bring some coffee and biscuits?”, inquired Pete, dusting shavings from the new fleece. Zander’s response, however, was unexpected.

“Dad?” He spoke slowly, nervously fidgeting with his hands. “Can you take me Trick or Treating this year?”

Pete took a deep breath, carefully placed his chisel on the workbench and retired to his stool. Patting his knee, he beckoned for Zander to jump on. Their heads were now level.

“Ooof!”, feigned Pete, “you’re getting much too big for this.”. He paused, thinking how he should discuss this with the six-year-old. While it was true that children faced far greater risks these days, risks of being out in the dark, of approaching strangers’ houses, these were not the main factors for Pete’s reluctance.

Pete couldn’t help thinking, maybe he was just out of step with the whole idea of Trick or Treat?

In his own lifetime, he had seen the night grow from games of Duck Apple and Bob Apple (leading him to conclude that apples were the dullest fruit ever invented), to a candy frenzy, fueled by American sugar. As a youth, he had carved out many a turnip lantern, but these days, children did not even know what a turnip was, preferring instead the larger pumpkin, another import from the USA.

Even the name. Pete was not religious but even he understood the that the All Hallows’ festival, geared specifically to remembering the dead, predated even the Christian calendar, and had, over the centuries, been assimilated into Hallowe’en. But, where had Trick or Treat come in?

So maybe he just did not get Trick or Treat?

He tried the obvious parries: “it’ll be cold / wet / dark”, but Zander remained on Pete’s knee, undeterred. “All my friends are doing it.” In a final, exasperated motion, Pete turned to his son. “What do you think Trick or Treat really means?”

“I just want to collect some candy.”  

“So are you going to ask a stranger to give you some treat, or else you will play a trick on them? That’s not very nice, Zander, is it? If these people refuse your treat, what tricks do you intend playing on them?”

It was Zander’s turn to pause. As his face contorted, pondering the question, Pete could not help but recognise his own features.

“So, do you see, Zander? I don’t think you should approach people, saying that you’ll do nasty things to them. I want you to grow up to be nice to other people. So, that’s why I don’t want you playing Trick or Treat.”

Seeing the look of disappointment in the child’s eyes, he added, “I tell you what. How about when we go shopping this week, we get extra chocolate, just to make up for it?” Thinking as he spoke, Pete developed his idea. “In fact, I know. Why don’t we buy some marshmallows, and we can drink cups of hot chocolate? All of us? We could make that our tradition?”

For now, the thought of marshmallows placated the boy, and he slipped from dad’s thigh and bounded around the garage.

But Pete had a funny feeling that he might be having this same discussion again next year.

Author: Mister Bump UK

Designed/developed large IT systems, interrupted by a stroke in 2016, aged 48. Now mix development of health-related software with voluntary work and writing. Married, with an estranged daughter.

49 thoughts on “Growing Pains”

  1. I’m sure the whole Halloween thing is a fairly recent phenomenon. We had mischief night as kids, (although we never actually got up to any), but I certainly don’t remember trick or treating. 😒

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My brother sister and I looked forward to Halloween in those days we went out by ourselves my sister and I were Charlie’s Angels and my brother was Spider-Man and I agree with Zander we were in it for the treats! 👍😁

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yup and we used to get mother load of awesome candy until one year when my mum found out razor blades and Tylenol were put in candy somewhere in US we lived in Chicago at the time and she took away any potential candy she thought it might happen too 😣

        Liked by 2 people

        1. ouch. But I suppose it reminds you that it can happen. Happens here too, sometimes people will go into supermarkets with syringes. We’ve heard of two or three cases like that.

          There was a thing on tv the other night about women being injected with soe date rape drug, and only noticing when they see the bruise a few days later. I mean, that has always been a danger but for some reason the story resurfaced. There’s very little to police can do.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Dating is very dangerous these days. There was a story out of Seattle a few years ago about a woman who met a guy on Craig List went out with him few times then to a baseball game and her head was found in a trash bin few days later! 😳😱

            Liked by 2 people

                1. I dunno. I mean, if someone was looking for a partner, they’d use them, right? They seem an easy(ier) way to connect with someone, although I guess people need to be aware of the crazies. I met Mrs B in a wine bar and the first time we dated, that was just as risky. But it never even crossed my mind that she might be a bad person. You know, might wanna harm me.

                  It’s only years later…:-))

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. Ohhhh youuuuu
                    Online dating involves selling oneself and given my age I just feel uncomfortable doing that
                    As a hopeless romantic I’m always hoping I’ll meet him at the grocery store or book store or on a plane and connect instantly
                    My brother says I’m in a dreamworld 😂😂


                    1. I quite like having the cats for company. Mrs Bump and I live a fair degree separately. I mean, we live together, we get on etc, but she has her life and I have mine. Especially after I had my stroke, when I just didn’t know to what extent I’d recover, I encouraged her to nurture interests outside of just “me”. Like, she sings in a choir. And i can’t deny it, I enjoy my own company a lot of the time. Not always, interactions with the right people make life worth living.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. She “does” a lot more than I do. We’re rural and since the stroke, I don’t drive. So I’m a lot more tied to the house than she is. I always worked with computers anyway, so understand them and probably spend a disproportionate amount of time online.
                      All these lockdowns did not particularly bother me.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. I do calls for a charity (voluntary). Workload doubled overnight, reassurance calls. Lots of people weren’t speaking to anyone. Oddly, it didn’t really affect me. It’s usual to go out and not see anyone.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    4. I’m just used to get up and have a purpose a direction of work as shitty as some of it is right now plus financially I took a hit last year as we were not paid by our employer for the six week period nor did he make it up to us when we returned 😖

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. We were fortunate. I currently live on disability benefit, so that was unaffected. Wife is a nurse, which was also unaffected. In fact, she gained because her surgery went to working one week on, one week off. On full pay. I’m quite frugal anyway but she ordered loads of crap from Amazon.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    1. Yup, sounds about right. Anything carby will get you. I can tolerate rice, which I have most nights, but I can’t resist pizza now and again.
                      Thin crust, mind 🤣 Thinner the better.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    2. nobody’s perfect 🙂 My excuse is that I need the added sweetness 🙂 But it’s certainly true that I heavily restrict my intake, so it just makes the cravings increrase. I probably eat less than most, but obsess more.

                      Liked by 1 person

      1. We never did tricks. It was just what you said. It was fun. I did trick or treating in the 1950s and 1960s. I took my kids trick or treating in the 70s and 80s. I went with my grandkids 2005 – 2016. It was always just fun. Never any tricks,

        Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was a kid Halloween wasn’t a thing at all in Australia. Pumpkins aren’t even in season. It’s spring. And frankly I have no idea what it’s all about. But it’s all over the shops here now (costumes, plastic jack-o-lanterns, skeletons, etc) and lots of kids go trick or treating. I am so uncomfortable with it – both them coming to our house (we don’t keep sweets in the house and I”m not buying them for one night I don’t have any part in) and the thought of our kids doing it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds very similar to here and us. We will generally buy a bagof fun-size somethings, in case anybody calls, but we live in the wrong direction, right on the edge of a village, so I end up scoffing them thru November. Not complaining, though 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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